Manga: Ai wo Utau Yori Ore ni Oborero!

This marks the halfway mark for NaBloPoMo, woohoo! I can’t wait for the month to be over though. Posting every day is challenging and fun, but honestly pretty tiring. And I’ve also got some other stuff planned for this blog after NaBloPoMo. Plus, the end of Nov signals the start of Dec and the last month of the year is always cool, especially this year with the Anime Festival Asia (AFA) in Singapore is held on the first weekend.

Manga: Ai wo Utau Yori Ore ni Oborero! 「愛を歌うより俺に溺れろ!」 a.k.a Ai Ore! Love Me! or Blaue Rosen

That… is one long-ass title there, so it’ll hence forth be shortened to Ai Ore!

volume 1 cover

volume 1 cover

Ai Ore! is a Shoujo, comedy, romance, drama manga series by Shinjo Mayu. It was published from Jun 2006 to 2009 with a total of 29 chapters that have been compiled into 5 tankobon volumes. It was adapted into a drama CD and a live-action film was released in 2012.

Handsome, androgynous Sakurazaka Mizuki, is the lead guitarist in the all-girl band, Blaue Rosen and dubbed the “prince” of her all-girl school. Shiraishi Akira is a boy with feminine features and is the “princess” of the neighbouring all-boys school, with a long-time crush on Mizuki. When Akira auditions for Blaue Rosen and elbows his way into Mizuki’s life, a series of comical events bring them closer together, even as the prejudice of the people around them tries to pull them apart.

WARNING: There are implications of same sex relationships. Some smut and censored NSFW. A little implied S&M. Cross-dressing. The whole manga has cross-dressing. I shouldn’t even need to warn anyone about cross-dressing, but I’d just like to cover all bases.

The Chuang Yi volumes were published in English, so at that time I only knew the series as Blaue Rosen. I first read this in 2009 after picking it randomly off the shelf in a bookstore because the cover looked pretty exciting. And then I read the blurb at the back… That… was pretty confusing. It actually took awhile of flipping the volume to the front cover and back blurb for my brain to process that, “Oh. The brown-haired character is a guy and the blond character is a girl…?”

Shinjo-sensei is quite a veteran in the field of Shoujo manga with numerous works under her belt. Many of her works are pretty generic I guess, but Ai Ore! would probably be counted as one of her less generic ones. C’mon, a relationship between a guy who looks like a girl and a girl who looks like a guy isn’t that generic in the first place. At least not when this was first published. Shinjo-sensei pulled it off pretty well.

Ai Ore! is a pretty shallow, cliche story (as with a lot of Shinjo-sensei’s other works) where everything progresses too quickly and too conveniently for it to feel realistic. But you don’t read it for a deep, profound love story anyway. I read it for the heart-thumping shoujo moments, developments, and scenes where the characters set the standards for being the perfect guy or girl in a relationship. And then sigh with a demoralised heart because I will never meet that standard nor will i expect anyone else to.

Viz Media's vol 1 cover of Ai Ore!

Viz Media’s vol 1 cover of Ai Ore!

Shinjo-sensei’s art is full of the same type of faces and eyes and hair and… well… let’s just say it’s very usual shoujo-style, yes. She sort of changed it up slightly throughout this series though, that much is pretty evident from the drastic contrast between the main couple. The art isn’t great or anything, but enough to portray the attractiveness of the characters and their expressions that make your heart go doki doki.

Probably the most profound part of this manga would be how it depicts gender identity and roles in a subtle format. The characters deal with different insecurities and complexes on the way they grew up and matured in different environments. The gender swapping can be a little confusing at the beginning, but everything gets really easy to follow after that. Especially when you realise their looks are just LOOKS and nothing more, like how you don’t judge a book by its cover.

Sorry, this is pretty darn half-assed, not to mention late. Lost track of time re-reading the manga and almost forgot to write the post whoops… Gonna edit it back to the correct date HAHA.

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